As Suns media week continues, next up on Friday were two veteran bench players who will be key to the Suns’ success in 2020-21: Dario Saric and E’Twaun Moore.
Though they spoke separately, both players were invigorated by the Suns’ run in the Bubble and that is what made both players, who were free agents this offseason, want to be in Phoenix.
Of course, Saric was a part of that run himself, and after re-signing in restricted free agency for three years and $27 million, could step into a similar role again. But after a 2019-20 season that saw him start, come off the bench, and occasionally not even be in the rotation, Saric is trying not to come into training camp with specific expectations.
“I’ll play the 4, 5, 1, whatever,” Saric said.
Dario Saric expects more adjustments throughout the season like last year as the Suns acclimate with new pieces.— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) December 4, 2020
"I'll play the 4, 5, 1, whatever."
Doesn't mind starting or coming off the bench, just wants to play hard and earn minutes.
Rather than the exact role he’ll play, what has Saric excited heading into a new season is the mentality he sees his Suns teammates exhibiting already.
This entire Suns team has been consistent that they saw a completely new temperament and work ethic from their teammates in Orlando, and while others have observed a similar attitude so far this week, Saric was most specific.
“Just kind of angry dogs who want to compete every game,” is how the Croatian big man put it.
Dario Saric says he notices the same level of seriousness and work ethic that the Suns showed in the Bubble so far during training camp in Phoenix.— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) December 4, 2020
"Just kind of angry dogs who want to compete every game."
Moore was in the Bubble as well as a veteran leader and bench player for the Pelicans, and he took notice of the Suns’ undefeated run during the restart. In fact, Moore said, the whole league did.
“Everyone took notice,” Moore told reporters on Friday. “After that long layoff, to come in and compete at a high level every game, that was pretty special.
“That don’t happen every place.”
Because it is just the early days of team workouts and there are so many new additions to the roster, Moore also wasn’t certain where he would slot in on the roster, but he believes his versatility is going to be valuable this season in particular. Indeed, because Chris Paul is likely to be brought along slowly like even Ricky Rubio was last season and NBA teams have to factor in potential COVID infections this year, a guy like Moore who can handle the ball, defend multiple positions, and shoot will be good for the Suns.
When Moore discussed where he’s most comfortable, he smiled.
I asked E'Twaun Moore what role he's most comfortable in on the floor:— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) December 4, 2020
"You said it. I'm comfortable everywhere. ... I'm versatile. Whatever the team needs at any point, I'll be able to step in that void."
As the Suns’ rotation takes shape in the coming weeks during training camp and preseason, Moore and Saric figure to be two key play-makers for the bench unit, and both have the versatility to fit alongside the team’s star players as well.
They seem excited to get to work no matter their role and echoed a perspective that’s been discussed throughout the week, that it’s time to get to work and build on the Bubble performance, not rest on their laurels and expect success.
This team is surely one of the most experienced and deep the Suns have had in a long time, and Moore and Saric are perfect examples of the value that can have for a building team.